Pacific Northwest businesses show resilience during COVID‑19

The Seattle skyline with Mt. Rainer in the background
Attracting new customers, planning for retirement, and protecting against cyberattacks emerged as three top-of-mind priorities for small business owners in a new small business needs assessment commissioned by the SBDC.

The 2020 Business in the Northwest report, published by the Washington State University Carson College of Business, finds that although most businesses have experienced significant hardships due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, Pacific Northwest business leaders are confident they have the necessary skills and resources to navigate the crisis.

“2020 has emerged as one of the most challenging years of our lifetimes. Yet, even in the face of record adversity, the Pacific Northwest business community continues to show resilience,” said Carson College dean Chip Hunter. “The results of this year’s report encourage me to believe that we’ll come out of this with new ways of working and a stronger sense of community.”

Now in its third year, the Business in the Northwest report specifically focuses on how business leaders have been navigating the unprecedented challenges brought forward by the pandemic. Businesses across the Pacific Northwest have stepped up to support both their employees and communities during this time and, despite facing setbacks, business leaders remain optimistic about the region’s future.

Key findings from the 2020 report include:

  • Businesses feel the negative impacts of the pandemic: The majority of business leaders (64%) report feeling a negative impact on their business, resulting in a third of businesses having to close their doors. More than 1 in 10 (12%) businesses had to close permanently, while almost a quarter (24%) have closed temporarily.
  • Adapting in the face of challenge: Refining or re-strategizing product and service offerings has helped 76% of business during this time.
  • Business leaders support stay-at-home policies: More than half of business leaders (66%) feel their state governments have done either an “excellent” or a “good” job responding to the COVID-19 crisis. More than two-thirds (79%) say stay-at-home orders were the correct response to slowing the spread of the virus.
  • In this together: The vast majority (87%) of business leaders feel a larger responsibility to help their communities during this time, and 95% feel an increased sense of responsibility to support their employees.
  • Teleworking is here to stay: More than half (56%) of business leaders will continue allowing employees to work from home, and 74% will continue with virtual meetings.
  • Optimism remains: Despite facing unprecedented challenges, 80% of business leaders are optimistic about the business climate in the region. Additionally, 92% feel their company is equipped with the tools it needs to withstand changes over the next three years.

The report surveyed a total of 301 Pacific Northwest business leaders from June 16, 2020 to June 25, 2020. For more insights into this year’s report, visit the Business in the Northwest 2020 website.

Media contacts:

  • Sarah Druffel, director of strategic marketing and communications, Carson College of Business, 509-335-4345,
  • Eric Hollenbeck, communications manager for research, Carson College of Business, 509-335-3597,

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